Opening Port Gaskets

My boat, #196 came to me with three opening and one fixed oval ports. I can't say for sure, but it appears as if they are original. The exterior trim matches the larger fixed ports in both profile, material and means of fastening, using small slotted bolts with acorn nuts on the inside. One of the opening ports started to leak at the rubber gasket. It also has one "leg" of the hinge broken off. None of them leak where they are fitted to the cabin house sides. The one that leaked is over my wife's bunk.

Other folks have reported that mine are oversized and not original...could be, while yet others have reported that they have some that are exactly like mine ... while still others have said they believe our boats didn't come with opening ports. Truth be told, I don't know. I DO know that over the entire production run, there are many variations, some subtle, some not so on the overall fit and finish of our sturdy little boats.

My education on ports for the A30 began by reading what has been posted on the website regarding ports in general...mostly dealing with rebedding and reglazing the large ones. Good stuff, that! However, I thought I had read somewhere about gasket material for the opening ports but I couldn't find anything when I went looking. I then contacted the good folks at Spartan Marine who got back to me in a prompt and professional manner. Unfortunately, they were unable to identify the manufacturer of my ports. Spartan does make a beautifully crafted bronze opening oval port that will fit nicely and with that level of craftsmanship comes a significant price. I also did a search on EBay for Wilcox-Crittenden oval ports. I pretty much came up blank. By the way, mine do not have the stylized WC logo anywhere on them. My assumption is mine are cast aluminum as a magnet does not stick.

And why was I writing this? Oh yes, the leak over my wife's bunk. The portlight in question leaked at the rubber gasket which might also be original. The rubber was compressed out of shape and had lost its elasticity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! If the new one lasts half that long, I'll be a happy boat owner.

My first query was to Taco Marine, they have a lot of good stuff but alas, not quite what I was looking for. I stumbled on a product by Wefco that has proven to be just the thing. It is 1/4" square in section with a cylindrical hollow core. Isn't it funny how once you know what you're looking for, it seems to turn up most everywhere. I ordered it by the foot from Defender. The replacement of the old with the new was simple - the old came right out of the channel that's cast into the frame of the port and the new gasket material was press-fitted in dry sort of pushing back on itself a little so as not to stretch it. The joint is a simple butt joint at the top. Could you mitre-cut the joint? Sure. Could you set the gasket material in rubber cement or similar? Sure. My wife says it doesn't leak so far the way it is.

Offshore Sailing book cover Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr

We went to a Windjammers lecture to hear Bill Seifert and I was impressed enough to buy the book on the spot. I've heard a lot of people talk about ways to improve a boat, but I've never heard one person suggest so many good ideas that I hadn't considered. Part of the charm is the specificity of the suggestions. Everyone says you should secure your floorboards, hatchboards and batteries. Bill shows good suggestions on how to do so.

The suggestions are very practical for the do-it-yourselfer, too. Many show how to make or adapt inexpensive solutions. Tip #12 on closing the deck blower vents is one that will pay off for me without ever going offshore. I'll implement that one to stop the wintertime storms from finding their way belowdecks.

Besides modifications, the book also includes advice for operating offshore, cooking, boat selection, dealing with bureaucracy, and more.

Bill Seifert has worked at Tartan, TPI, and Alden Yachts. He's a veteran of many Marion-Bermuda races and now runs his own yacht management company. His tips are born of experience--not of book-learning--and it shows. He obviously knows his stuff.

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